Prosecutors wrap up case in Lithuania Real IRA trial

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Lithuanian prosecutors Thursday wrapped up their court questioning of an Irishman charged with attempting to smuggle arms to dissident paramilitary group the Real IRA, his lawyer said.

Michael Campbell, 38, had been expected to learn Thursday what sentence prosecutors would seek in the long-running case, but that part of the hearing was delayed until Friday.

"The questioning was finished today and the prosecutor has asked for a pause until tomorrow to prepare for a final speech," defence attorney Ingrida Botyriene told AFP.

Under Lithuanian law, Cambpell faces up to 20 years in prison.

While the proposed sentence should be revealed on Friday, Campbell's legal team will only present his final defence at hearings in the middle of September, Botyriene explained.

"After that, I cannot predict how long it will take for a court to pass a sentence because of the complexity of the case," she added.

Lithuania's overloaded courts usually postpone hearings until the autumn because of their summer recess.

In the last hearing in May, Campbell told the court in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius that he was set up by British intelligence and denied he plotted to boost the arsenal of the Real Irish Republican Army, led by his elder brother.

Campbell was arrested in January 2008 in Vilnius as he met with an undercover Lithuanian officer posing as an arms dealer.

His trial opened in August 2009. Open hearings have been rare due to a blackout when Lithuanian and British intelligence witnesses testified.

Campbell's family ties are crucial to the prosecution case because his brother Liam, 47, is one of the four leaders of the Real IRA found liable by a civil court for a 1998 bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, which killed 29 people.

The Real IRA broke with the Provisional IRA -- once the main armed group opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland -- in 1997 over the latter's support for a peace deal with London.

© 2011 AFP

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